Pilot agrovoltaic project with mobile PV modules launched in France

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From pv magazine France.

The Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) renewable energy unit of French oil and gas group Engie is developing a pilot agrivoltaic project near Lyon.

The 150 kW facility will be installed this year at the Lyon-Dardilly-Ecully agricultural school in southwestern France.

The project will be sited between an open field and a nursery and will feature mobile PV panels deployed on crop cultivation, CNR told pv magazine. The electricity generated will be consumed on-site with any surplus injected into the grid.

Crop protection

“The mounting structure of solar panels constitutes an agricultural tool at the service of the plant, making it possible to protect crops from climatic hazards and to reduce their water needs,” said CNR.

The experiment will be conducted for three years. “Only half of the 6,000m² area dedicated to the project will be covered with photovoltaic panels,” said the developer. The other half will be used to assess performance.

“The aim of the experiment is to demonstrate that the management of a micro climate generated by the mobile solar panels deployed above the crop areas makes it possible to protect [crops], to increase their productivity [and] to reduce water consumption while … meeting the essential needs of the plant,” added CNR.

Funding

The project, which will cost more than €1 million, will bank a 40% subsidy from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region as part of its climate adaptation program for farmers. The plan, launched in October, aims to support new agricultural sectors better adapted to the changing climatic conditions of the soil, such as hops, sorghum and alfalfa.

“Here we have a very innovative project for which the region has a very particular interest, insofar as it is geared towards preserving the environment, that it promotes a model of sustainable agriculture and that it involves our high school students in the construction of a future project that could set a precedent,” said Eric Fournier, regional vice-president responsible for the environment, sustainable development, energy and regional natural parks.